February 15, 2008
Fitzgerald: A tribute to Prince Bandar
Previously secret files describe how investigators were told they faced "another 7/7" and the loss of "British lives on British streets" if they pressed on with their inquiries and the Saudis carried out their threat to cut off intelligence.
Prince Bandar, the head of the Saudi national security council, and son of the crown prince, was alleged in court to be the man behind the threats to hold back information about suicide bombers and terrorists. He faces accusations that he himself took more than £1bn in secret payments from the arms company BAE.
He was accused in yesterday's high court hearings of flying to London in December 2006 and uttering threats which made the prime minister, Tony Blair, force an end to the Serious Fraud Office investigation into bribery allegations involving Bandar and his family." -- from the British report quoted here
This is Prince Bandar, smiling Prince Bandar. The one with the estate in Virginia. The one with the vast chalet in Aspen, where he had the top of an entire mountain removed so as to improve his view. The one who has that Plantagenet hunting-lodge outside London. The one who became the longest-serving diplomat in Washington, who entertained so lavishly all of his many good and great friends of both parties. The one who defended the massive thievery of the Al-Saud with his usual actor's routine, as he served the port and distributed the box of cigars, that "after all, all governments are corrupt and it is only a matter of degree" -- and how, after all, could the Americans present, all of them recognizing the corruption in their own government, and of which some of them were no doubt more than observers, disagree?
Prince Bandar, the Smiler With the Knyf Under the Cloke, the one who was allowed in, or rather allowed himself in, to secret policy-planning sessions just before the war in Iraq. Prince Bandar, the one who was a regular tennis partner of Colin Powell, to whose wife he gave a jaguar, the very same one she had once possessed, and had let drop in conversation how much she missed it. Prince Bandar –whom did he not touch? Was there a President, or a Secretary of State, or a National Security Advisor, or members of key Congressional committees, or generals preparing arms sales of all kind, from AWACS back in 1980 to the most advanced weaponry now, or people in the Energy Department who never managed to come up with even the semblance of an intelligent energy policy, who never met Prince Bandar?
After all, those Energy Department officials never came up with taxes on gasoline of the kind needed, and never suggested any subsidies to trains and rebuilding of track by the Federal government, no subsidies to urban mass transit, no subsidies to solar energy, as the Germans finally did, no intelligent campaign to recognize the need for nuclear plants that required government planning, as the French did, no nothing at all, save measures largely ineffective, late, and in some cases, counter-productive.
They must all be very proud of themselves, all the people in the American government who for so long said such nice things about Saudi Arabia, trusted Saudi Arabia, "our staunch ally," to do the right thing. They must be very proud of all they have managed to do, and not to do, since 1973, when the massive price rises came, a period during which the Muslim nations of OPEC (that is, almost all of OPEC) were the recipients of the largest transfer of wealth in human history, some ten trillion dollars -- with the results we all see.
They must be very proud to have learned that Saudi Arabia has spent nearly $100 billion in the last years to pay for mosques, madrasas, campaigns of Da'wa, and small armies of propagandists all over the Western world, to make sure that Saudi Arabia, with its blend of Islamic fanaticism and ruling-class decadence and smiling malevolence toward Infidels, always with just enough of an appearance (and some gravelly-voiced assurances that seem so...so reasonable...if you are already inclined to be impressed by friendly billionaires, bearing or likely to bear gifts), could always satisfy the doubts of the slightly-doubting.
And at the center of it all, in Washington, there was one man.